By Capcom Released: 25 May 12
Also on: PlayStation 3
Dragon's Dogma looks every inch a Western RPG, with all the hallmarks you'd expect: a sprawling open world, the Tolkien setting and people that say the word 'aught'. Oh, and real time combat. Yet beneath all of this, Dragon's Dogma is very much a Japanese video game, which is probably why, at first at least, it doesn't feel quite right.
Venture into the game's verdant world of Gransys expecting to get your Skyrim on and you're going to leave very disappointed indeed. Strolling about won't unravel a spellbinding series of quests where you take in breathless sights, visit mystic ruins and fill yourself with an unparalleled sense of wonder. Nope, in Dragon's Dogma, wandering about will get you eaten by a Chimera.
In place of Western RPG's traditional wanderlust, Dragon's Dogma does three very interesting things. First is its bestiary, which borrows from every myth you could think of to conjure an army of weird and wonderful monsters with which to do battle Secondly, when night falls in Gransys, it falls hard; type of night that won't let you see more than a few inches past your face. Thirdly, and most importantly, it introduces its unique form of slavery, the pawns.
At all times, you're accompanied on your travels and travails by three doting slaves, who'll do your bidding at any cost. They'll plough headfirst into battle, heal you when you're hurt and hoover up loot upon command. They're a bloody good bunch to have around, basically.
As well as smacking up all manner of goblins, wolves, bandits and even dragons with you, the pawns actually act as a dynamic hint system. They learn about areas you're walking through, remind you to look out for treasure, and most crucially, tell you how to defeat the game's tough baddies. Dragon's Dogma is full of enormous monsters, many of which just appear in the woods when you're trying to mind your own business, and all of them have a specific way to be taken down.
The combat system is varied and deep enough to account for numerous styles, though, and positively encourages ridiculous effort against insurmountable odds. You can actually climb larger enemies like the lumbering Giant or the growling Chimera and stab them while on their backs, and if instructed to do so by using the d-pad, your pawns will do the same.
So pawns are awesome, then? Yes and no. They're helpful and innovative sure, but they do not ever shut up. Ever. Imagine driving to Scotland from Cornwall with two kids jacked up on Monster Energy in the back seats; that's what the pawns are like. It's impossible to gain any sense of mystery or magic from Dragon's Dogma because the whole game is soundtracked by relentless, poorly acted insights into every minute detail in the proceedings.
This is one of those really tough games to score, because I can easily see how some will love the game's innovations and commitment to preparation and gear-management, while to others it'll feel unplayable. In many ways, Dragon's Dogma is comparable to that other recent Japanese take on the Western RPG, Dark Souls. Both are defiantly obstinate, both offer physical, tangible combat, and both try out clever ways of interacting online. And both, of course, are definitely a matter of taste. Where Dark Souls divides people through design choices, though, Dragon's Dogma's will likely divide through design flaws.
Virgin Media verdict:
In this version of the classic game you must connect identical tile...Download
Battle Fire, Water, Air and Earth!Download
Search the Mediterranean for Atlantis!Download
Hordes of horrible creatures descend upon your fantasy land. Magic ...Download
Turn words into sweet-sweet honey!Download
Time to dress up your date!Download
Play snooker and improve your game!Download
Help Flubbles catch the apples!Download
These adorable little fur balls are trapped! Use your aim and skill...Download
Hidden Objects in the Ocean.Download